Shared posts

24 Nov 19:30

Never email me again.


For Lev. Not to Lev.

Never email me again.

24 Nov 02:56

thechristmaspatch: Hyperbole and a Half - The Motivation...




Hyperbole and a Half - The Motivation Game

this is too accurate for me right now

21 Nov 20:33

No One Can Do The "OOH WAH AH AH AH" Part From That Disturbed Song

by Samer Kalaf on The Concourse, shared by Lacey Donohue to Gawker

Not a great share, only for the "chode-rock" term.

Even if you despise Disturbed and their chode-rock anthem "Down With the Sickness," you know what it is. And you know the part at the beginning when lead singer David Draiman hoarsely yells, "OOH WAH AH AH AH." After googling the phrase—initially looking for the five-minute "endurance test"—I found this compilation of people at karaoke, struggling hard. Whoever made this: thank you.


23 Nov 16:53

Crows playing in the snow

Crows playing in the snow

23 Nov 22:54

If You Think This is About Extreme Frugality, You’re Missing The Point

by Mr. Money Mustache

this is the first thing i've read by MMM. i see the attraction, LD and CC.


A few months back, I joined in fnymagor an episode of a podcast called the Disciplined Investor. The host Andrew Horowitz and I were chatting about money, raising children, stock market crashes and so on, and then this question popped out of the void and really surprised me:


So, there must be something you really miss. What’s the thing that it hurt most to give up, to live the way you do so you could retire early?

What happens when your son wants to go to Disneyland, and you have to turn to him and say, ‘Sorry, that’s just not in the budget this year’?”


For some reason, the question stirred up so much stern enthusiasm in me that I had to loosen my collar to let some of the steam shoot out. There were so many wrong but telling assumptions behind it. It was asked from such a well-meaning but self-defeating position.  I quietly took a deep breath and did my best to explain that this is exactly where the path of the Sucka Consumer divides from that of the Mustachian.

More recently, this lifestyle you and I share showed up in New York Magazine, which brought us a good amount of new attention. The writer Annie Lowrey seemed to get the idea pretty well, describing Mustachianism as a thing people (even rich people) aspire to by choice, rather than a wacky  thing that some extremely warped people are doing because that’s all they can afford. Economist Ezra Klein mused on Twitter that frugality might now be becoming a status competition that replaces clueless consumption. I sure hope so.

Unfortunately, the article was capped with a flashy but  misleading headline*:  Meet The Blogger Who Wants You To Spend Like You’re Poor.

 Another version of the same article was given the label This Tightwad is Trending“.

Those were probably calculated phrases, because the goal of any headline is to capture attention and draw in readers. The problem is that too many of those readers still aren’t getting it. You end up with comments like,


“Fiscal responsibility is one thing but I haven’t time for cheap people. I am financially careful but I refuse to deprive myself of the few luxuries I prefer to indulge. People like Mustache take it to another level.”

“So the point of living like you are poor is to have enough money to retire in your 30’s and live like you’re poor… perpetually? No thank you.”


So let’s break it down real quick so brand new Mustachians will know what this shit is about, while the old timers can stand in the back and sing along.

This is not about being cheap, minimalist, or extreme.

It’s about using logic and science to design a Slightly Less Ridiculous Than Average Lifestyle in order to live more happily.

The Mustache family does not lead an “extremely frugal” lifestyle by any stretch of the imagination. I mean, holy shit, we are a multimillionaire family living in an expensive house with a stream of luxury goods, services and food shooting at us from all directions.

Not only do we bathe daily in this spectacular river of affluence, but we even walk casually away from it a few times a year in order to ride in Jet Aircraft which allow us to sample other unnecessary parts of the world. The total bill for this nuclear explosion of consumption is an outrageous $25,000 per year, which would be closer to $40,000 if you accounted for mortgage interest or rent on a comparable house. The life we lead in this rich part of a rich country is extreme, but at the other end of the scale than that suggested by the critics.

The only unusual part by American standards is that we could afford to spend many times more, and yet somehow we choose not to do it. This is a lifestyle of choice, not a sacrifice we make just because we don’t want to have to go back to the office. And therein lies the reason this blog is of any use to anyone:

 Learning to separate “happiness” from  “spending money” is the quickest and most reliable way to a better life.

The side-effect of this is that your life will become much less expensive and you will therefore become much wealthier very quickly.

But it’s not about the money, and as long as you think it is about the money, you’re still fucked.

 So I explained to the man in the interview that if we wanted to go to Disneyland, we would go to Disneyland. Hell, we would live inside the park or perhaps one of the Disney-owned cruise ships if we saw fit. We just happen to find that tourist traps like Disney are a pretty pale and distant second place compared to the fine places that Mother Nature has built for us.

We don’t use our bikes for transportation and hauling instead of our cars, even in the dark and even in the middle of winter because it saves us a few dollars of fuel. We do it because it’s an awesome way to connect with your own town, stay in proper condition, adapt naturally to your own climate, and live like a real human instead of a sanitized, flabby car clown.

I don’t swim and and paddle kayaks and canoes all summer because I lack the funds to buy a twin-engine motorboat. I do it because when it comes to recreational pastimes, muscle wins over motor every fucking time.

I’m not expecting my son to earn his own living early in life and pay for his own higher education because I’m a tightass or because it would break the bank to fund a Harvard doctorate. I set out this challenge because pampering your kids only encourages a dependence on Pampers, while giving them the advantage of working for their own rewards is the best possible gift. I will give him unlimited time, guidance, and access to knowledge, and teach him how to amass an embarrassingly large fortune in a short amount of time. It will then be his choice how to put this knowledge to work.

We spend most of our time at home, a place which I built from the ground up with the valuable helping hands of a few friends. We do our own cooking and cleaning and of course maintenance. Entertaining, creating things, stories and music and hosting a neverending stream of fun guests. Even my gym, workshop, and office are right here in the same spot.

None of this is done because this is a cheap way to live, but because it’s a rich and efficient way to get in touch with all the things that make a human happy. We could go out and get faint approximations of these same services by driving around constantly to various cities and manage to spend more, but why the hell would we do this?

Oddly enough, it hasn’t always been this way. At age 21, I had a fairly materialistic life planned for myself: perhaps a 4500 square foot luxury home in the best neighborhood and a reasonably flashy car like an Acura NSX. Maybe a vacation house or two later on, once I made CEO.

But over the years, this has changed. Even after retirement, our costs have continued to drop even as our income has increased. The choices are no longer based on saving money, but rather on doing our best to live a good life. This was a pleasant surprise to me, but it seems to be an incomprehensible incongruity to the average consumer.

I told the man that my family’s lifestyle was not designed from the top down, starting with a restrictive budget and chopping off important activities based on their cost. Instead, it is a work in progress where we learn as much as possible about the entire planet and the various lifeforms therein, and do whatever we feel is most worthwhile given our limited time aboard this fine ship. Nothing is off-limits based on cost, because making money is fairly easy at this point. We do whatever we want, go wherever we want, and buy anything and everything we feel is worthwhile.

And as for that New York Magazine headline, no, I don’t want you to Spend Like You’re Poor. To me, that would imply car loans, processed food, hair salons, restaurants, lawn care companies, housekeepers and all the things that people get when they follow the standard script of a people who are starved for free time and chasing material comforts as a replacement for happiness.

I want you to spend like you are the richest person in the world, a person who has so much happiness and balance in your life that you can’t imagine anything you could buy that would make you any happier.


* Annie has since confirmed to me that writers for most magazines don’t get final say on their own headlines. I think you need to fix that, NY Magazine. If you’re going to hire people to write for you, why go in and subsequently mess with their shit? These are artists, and you get a better product if you don’t run in with a can of spray paint to make little adjustments after they finish their creation. Otherwise you’ll find an empty desk waiting for you as soon as they reach financial independence themselves.


 Further Reading: New people might enjoy this list of frequently complained questions, which I wrote a couple years back after a similar media incident. Glad you’re here!

24 Nov 05:00

AOC 16" USB Monitor (Refurbished) $70 - $95

  • Model: E1649Fwu
  • Model: E1659Fwu
  • 16" 16:9 1366x768 display connects via USB
  • USB-powered, too
  • Only 1.4" thick for the cheaper one, 0.9" thick for the other one
  • The more expensive model is USB 3.0; the other one is USB 2.0
  • We don't think it makes much difference performance-wise but there you go

Holy crap, they make portable USB monitors?

Why weren't we told? We like to think we're reasonably aware of what's going on in consumer electronics. You know, since that knowledge is basically the only thing that keeps us out of the free soup line. But somehow, the very existence of portable USB monitors slipped right by us.

It's especially weird because we would have been all over these. We've all suffered the jarring discomfort of going from our nice, spacious multi-monitor desk setup to the impossibly cramped confines of a single laptop display on the road. We've all had those moments when we're this close to dumping our laptops in the nearest trash can, walking away from our careers, and descending headlong into a twilight world of pure sensual debauchery, a short, violent life of overindulgence in every degradation save one: never, ever having to work on a little laptop screen again.

OK, that last one might just be us.

The point is, USB monitors! Throw one of these slim 1366x768 babies in your backpack or suitcase. Go somewhere. Plug it into your laptop - nope, no additional power cable, it's even USB-powered. Double your screen real estate just like that. Or, dare we suggest, triple it by buying two?

With one of these by our side on our next work trip, our laptop straitjacket is a thing of the past. We'll be happy upright citizens once again. We'll find the strength to resist the siren song of squalid self-indulgence. For another month or two, anyway.

18 Nov 14:00

Interstellar SPOILERCAST - 11/18/2014

by Will Smith

via TM. Sharing to listen later in BeyondPod.

Adam, Norm, and Will have mixed feeling about Interstellar, Christopher Nolan's latest project. Rest assured of one thing though, there will be spoilers aplenty. Enjoy!
22 Nov 03:00

How to Make Girl Scout Cookie Shots, Get Drunk

by John Farrier

I have a buzz, so I thought I'd share: "Girl Scout Cookies—especially Thin Mints—are delicious! They do, however, have low alcohol content."

Girl Scout Cookies—especially Thin Mints—are delicious! They do, however, have low alcohol content. That’s in sharp contrast to Andrea Romano and Laura Vitto of Mashable, who created this video showing you how to make shots that taste like popular Girls Scout Cookie flavors.

(Video Link)

After making their shots, Romano and Vitto immediately consume them. So they become increasingly intoxicated through the video. Thus they follow a classical rule of videography: shoot drunk, edit sober.

-via That’s Nerdalicious!

21 Nov 14:47

Minnesota not on track to meet proposed emissions reductions


Follow-on to the Google post about climate change yesterday. More proof that nothing is happening.

Even with its renewable energy standard and new solar law, Minnesota is not on track to meet federal emissions reductions aimed at addressing climate change, state officials said Thursday.

Minnesota would need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third by 2030 under proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules. But the state is on track to reduce emissions only by 3 percent by then, said David Thornton, an assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

"The policies in place have made some difference up until now, and the major difference they're going to be making into the future is offsetting the growth that we're going to be seeing," Thornton told a group of policy makers and business representatives during a forum held by the Environmental Initiative.

That means Minnesota needs a variety of new or expanded strategies to reduce emissions, he said.

Between now and February, state agencies led by the Environmental Quality Board will work with a consultant, the Center for Climate Strategies, to analyze current emissions and determine which policy options would give the state the most bang for its buck. Environmental Initiative, a nonprofit group that builds partnerships, will organize meetings for industry, agriculture and other sectors of the economy to provide input.

Ideas like expanding the renewable energy standard, retiring coal plants and planting urban forests will be analyzed based on three criteria: expected emissions reductions, cost and job creation.

So far, it appears an expanded renewable energy law, improving energy efficiency and retiring or repowering at least one of the coal generators at Xcel Energy's Sherburne County Generating Station would give the state the biggest reductions. Thornton said even though the consultants have already come up with some estimates, the process has merely begun.

"They can come up with some good ideas but figuring out how to implement them is the big barrier," he said. "That's one of things we're looking for in the next phase of input."

20 Nov 05:00

November 20, 2014


Still haven't read Moby Dick, but this was an excellent TL;DR.

21 Nov 00:07

31262: Russian Arktika-class nuclear powered Icebreaker Yamal

by theburnlab

via GN. Nuke beat.


Russian Arktika-class nuclear powered Icebreaker Yamal

19 Nov 21:00

Why Google halted its research into renewable energy

by Brad Plumer

Today in We're-Fucked news.

Back in 2007, Google had a very simple idea for addressing global warming — we just need to take existing renewable-energy technologies and keep improving them until they were as cheap as fossil fuels. And, voila! Problem solved.

Google realized its clean-energy project wasn't nearly ambitious enough

That was the logic behind the company's RE-C project, which aimed to produce one gigawatt of renewable electricity for less than the price of coal. The hope was to do this within years, not decades. Among other things, the company invested in new geothermal drilling R&D and put $168 million toward Brightsource's Ivanpah solar tower in the Mojave Desert.

By 2011, however, Google decided that this "moon shot" energy initiative wasn't going to work out as planned and shut things down. So what happened?

In a long essay at IEEE Spectrum, two Google engineers on the project — Ross Koningstein and David Fork — explain the thinking behind the closure. It's not that Google has given up on renewable energy. (The company still spends many millions of dollars buying wind energy for its servers.) Partly it's that they simply weren't on track to achieve their specific goals.

But, more interestingly, the project also made the engineers realize that their original clean-energy goal wasn't nearly ambitious enough.

'Today's renewable energy technology won't save us'

How did they figure? The two engineers calculated what would happen if Google actually achieved its dream of creating a renewable electricity source (say, geothermal or solar) that was cheaper than coal. A major breakthrough.

That would be a huge deal for climate. More and more electric utilities would switch over to this cleaner source over time. By 2050, the Google engineers' modeling suggested, US carbon-dioxide emissions would be 55 percent lower than what we're currently on pace for.

But they also found that this new technology would still be adopted too slowly to avert significant global warming — in part because the technology wouldn't be cheap enough to displace all the existing coal and gas plants out there that have already been paid for. As a result, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would keep rising sharply (the purple line below). And note that this is a best-case scenario for Google's original dream:

Data Sources: "The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation," Google-McKinsey, 2011; "Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim?," James Hansen et al., 2008 (IEEE Spectrum)

That's why the two engineers ultimately concluded that "Today's renewable energy technologies won't save us." Clean-energy technology needs to get much, much, much better — not just so that it's competitive with natural gas and coal, but good enough that everyone will readily start switching over within the next 40 years. Here are some rough sample numbers:

Residential customers in the contiguous United States pay from $0.09/kWh to $0.20/kWh, a significant portion of which pays for transmission and distribution costs. And here we see an opportunity for change.

A distributed, dispatchable power source [i.e., something that could be installed anywhere and turned on and off whenever needed] could prompt a switchover if it could undercut those end-user prices, selling electricity for less than $0.09/kWh to $0.20/kWh in local marketplaces. At such prices, the zero-carbon system would simply be the thrifty choice.

Unfortunately, most of today's clean generation sources can't provide power that is both distributed and dispatchable. Solar panels, for example, can be put on every rooftop, but can't provide power if the sun isn't shining. If we invented a distributed, dispatchable power technology, it could transform the energy marketplace and the roles played by utilities and their customers.

So, for example, if we had incredibly cheap solar panels with batteries that could store electricity during cloudy or dark periods and power an entire home for less than current utilities can — well, everyone would rush out to buy them and there'd quickly be little need for existing coal and gas plants. Carbon pollution would drop very, very quickly.

But we're still far from that point. To get there, the new clean energy sources can't just be comparable to fossil fuels. They have to be clearly superior.

Is Google's view too pessimistic?

We're going to need more power. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

We're going to need more power. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Now, this view of what it takes to solve global warming might seem overly pessimistic — and perhaps too Silicon Valley-centric — to some. After all, other groups like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have calculated that we can drastically cut carbon emissions with today's technologies. We'll just likely need to layer on additional policies like carbon taxes, efficiency regulations, subsidies, and so forth.

There's a long debate about the degree of tech innovation needed to solve climate change

Here's the rationale for the policy-heavy view: Many clean-energy technologies aren't competitive with coal and gas and oil right now, but that's largely because fossil-fuel plants and cars can emit as much carbon-dioxide as they want without paying for the damage it causes. So what if we had, say, a carbon tax that leveled the field? Or regulations that required older, dirtier power plants to shut down early? Then clean energy would have a leg up.

Koningstein and Fork, for their part, sound pessimistic about policy. They're skeptical that governments around the world are ever going to be able to penalize fossil fuel usage sufficiently. "Rather than depend on politicians' high ideals to drive change, it's a safer bet to rely on businesses' self interest: in other words, the bottom line." Make clean energy irresistible, and the problem will solve itself.

This harkens back to an old dispute among people thinking about how best to tackle climate change — between those who think we need major technological revolutions to solve the problem and those who think that existing technology plus incremental progress plus better efficiency plus the right mix of policy can curtail emissions quickly and drastically. (Obviously it's also possible to believe both things would help, but people seem to enjoy splitting into camps.)

On the question of R&D, Google's engineers ultimately settle for a bit of a hybrid view. They propose that governments and energy companies should consider a 70-20-10 rule of thumb for investing in energy:

The bulk of R&D resources could go to existing energy technologies that industry knows how to build and profitably deploy. These technologies probably won't save us, but they can reduce the scale of the problem that needs fixing. The next 20 percent could be dedicated to cutting-edge technologies that are on the path to economic viability. Most crucially, the final 10 percent could be dedicated to ideas that may seem crazy but might have huge impact.

That's a bit different from the way the US government invests, where upwards of 90 percent of energy R&D goes toward established tech and probably around 0.1 percent goes to crazy high-impact stuff. (Note also that the United States, other governments, and the private sector all spend remarkably little on energy R&D in any case.)

That might not be an entirely satisfying answer — it's partly a hope that something incredible, like cheap fusion power, will come out of that 10 percent. But their essay is a good way of thinking about the scale of the problem.

Further reading

Solar power keeps getting cheaper — but not for the reasons you'd expect

How to solve global warming, in 7 steps

Is there a free-market solution to global warming?

20 Nov 20:38

Journey to the Center of the Earth


Shitty. The link at the bottom goes to a russian site. You can read about it in english with google translate. Basically, it says a mine flooded with brine, and a sinkhole formed because of it. I can't really follow it, but I think it happened today. So perhaps we'll know more later. But it seems unrelated to the methane gas sink hole/explosion that happened awhile back.

19 Nov 06:03

Here's what a year's worth of carbon dioxide looks like

by Jon Fingas

It's so great to see the difference between winter and summer months. I was pretty amazed until I realized that the color scale change is on the order of +/- 10ppm. But still, good stuff.

It's easy to talk about carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and their effect on our planet, but visualizing them? That's hard. Thankfully, NASA has stepped up to the plate with a computer model that shows how CO2 travels across Earth's atmosphere in the...
13 Nov 15:02

The truth about cast iron

by Jason Kottke

At Serious Eats, Kenji López-Alt sets the record straight about some misconceptions people have about cast iron pans.

The Theory: Seasoning is a thin layer of oil that coats the inside of your skillet. Soap is designed to remove oil, therefore soap will damage your seasoning.

The Reality: Seasoning is actually not a thin layer of oil, it's a thin layer of polymerized oil, a key distinction. In a properly seasoned cast iron pan, one that has been rubbed with oil and heated repeatedly, the oil has already broken down into a plastic-like substance that has bonded to the surface of the metal. This is what gives well-seasoned cast iron its non-stick properties, and as the material is no longer actually an oil, the surfactants in dish soap should not affect it. Go ahead and soap it up and scrub it out.

I have two cast iron pans, including this skillet I use almost exclusively for making the world's best pancakes. Although, after hearing from Kenji that vintage cast iron pans can be slight better than modern pans, I might seek a replacement on Etsy. See also how to season a cast iron pan.

Tags: cooking   food   Kenji Lopez-Alt
14 Nov 13:55



Good summary. So embarrassed that my local news station is making national news this way.

10 Nov 10:33

RT @crulge: let's take a moment to remember the best advice column ever written,...

by Osias Jota

A guilty pleasure to read.

Author: Osias Jota
Source: Twitter Web Client
RT @crulge: let's take a moment to remember the best advice column ever written, from Seattle's @cmkshama
11 Nov 00:49

Lost in space


Anxiety inducing, but still cool. Try to get past the insufferable dubstep beat.

08 Nov 03:09

The Best Thinkpiece About Millennials And Potatoes


"“To stay relevant and increase demand for potatoes,” the Board wrote, “it will be critical to understand Millennials and how potatoes fit into their lives—now and in the future.”" I learned the term "phablet" from this article.

The takeaway for American potato growers and distributors is clear: “In fact, potatoes rate highest on what’s most important to Millennials.”
05 Nov 21:02

maxistentialist: Maciej Cegłowski: In 1952, an American...




Maciej Cegłowski:

In 1952, an American attaché in Moscow was innocently fiddling with his shortwave radio when he heard the voice of the American ambassador dictating letters in the Embassy, just a few buildings away. He immediately reported the incident, but though the Americans tore the walls out of the Ambassador’s office, they weren’t able to find a listening device.

When the broadcasts kept coming, the Americans flew in two technical experts with special radio finding equipment, who meticulously examined each object in the Ambassador’s office. They finally tracked the signal to this innocuous giant wooden sculpture of the Great Seal of the United States, hanging behind the Ambassador’s desk. It had been given as a gift by the Komsomol, the Soviet version of the Boy Scouts.

Cracking it open, they found a hollow cavity and a metal object so unusual and mysterious in its design that it has gone down in history as ‘The Thing’.

‘The Thing’ had no battery, no wires, no source of power at all. It was was just a little can of metal covered on one side with foil, with a long metal whisker sticking out the side. It seemed too simple to be anything.

That night the American technician slept with ‘The Thing’ under his pillow. The next day they smuggled it out of the country for analysis.

The Americans couldn’t figure out how ‘The Thing’ worked, and had to ask the British for help. After a few weeks of fiddling, the Brits finally cracked The Thing’s secret.

That little round can was a resonant cavity. If you shone a beam of radio waves at it at a particular frequency, it would sing back to you, like a tuning fork. The metal antenna was just the right length to broadcast back one of the higher harmonics of the signal.

The resonator sat right behind a specially thinned piece of wood under the eagle’s beak. When someone in the room spoke, vibrations in the air would shake the foil, slightly deforming the cavity, which in turn made the resonant signal weaker or stronger.

As the attaché discovered, you could listen to this modulated signal on a radio just like a regular broadcast. ‘The Thing’ was a wireless, remotely powered microphone. It had been hanging on the ambassador’s wall for seven years.

Today we have a name for what ‘The Thing’ is: It’s an RFID tag, ingeniously modified to detect sound vibrations. Our world is full of these little pieces of metal and electronics that will sing back to you if you shine the right kind of radio waves on them.

But for 1952, this was heady stuff. Those poor American spooks were up against a piece of science fiction.

Today I want to talk about these moments when the future falls in our laps, with no warning or consideration about whether we’re ready to confront it.

Another amazing talk by the creator of Pinboard. I first heard Maciej speak at XOXO, he blew me away. This transcript of his Webstock talk was also amazing.

Technically outside the scope of this blog, but this was way too interesting/cool not to share.

03 Nov 15:49

How many states will legalize marijuana and how soon?


The article is here:
Seems well reasoned. "So, if recreational marijuana does follow this pattern—and there is little reason to expect otherwise—we very well may see national marijuana legalization within seven years, in 2021."

How many states will legalize marijuana and how soon?
10 Nov 09:55

картинки от ВладС


clever. not sure it's true, though.

05 Nov 21:44

What Powers the Sudden Legalization of Cannabis in the US?

by david

This week, Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. joined Colorado and Washington State on the list of US states to legalize or decriminalize cannabis (marijuana).

What powers this sudden and dramatic U-turn in drugs policy? Humanistic sense dawning on the authorities? The artful lobbying of the pro-campaigners? Or are local legislators just smoking some serious green?

Well, they’re definitely getting on high on one kind of green…

» See our visualisation

08 Jul 11:30

Antibiotic Resistance

by david

A lot of fear and furore around the increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics. We took a look at the numbers.

See our visualisation.

The datasheet has more info:

Taken from the forthcoming infographic mega-tome, Knowledge is Beautiful (HarperCollins, Sep 2014)
Pre-order Amazon US & UK.

08 Nov 03:53

Preliminary Benefit-Cost Assessment of Final UN Open Working Group Post-2015 Development Targets


This article was highlighted in a recent Freakonomics Radio podcast:

This report assesses the targets in the OWG’s Final Outcome Document from 19 July 2014. This builds upon the information presented in similar documents which the Copenhagen Consensus Center released in the lead up to the 11th and 12th session of the OWG. From the first report to this one, we have updated ratings as the targets have been reformulated, and we have added new explanation and suggestions for better wording.  


High Level Panel

  11th OWG

 12th OWG


# total targets

140       →

212     →


# Phenomenal

13          →

27        → 


# Poor

10         →

23        →

# words in all targets^



2360     →

4389    →


The number of targets suggested by the Final OWG document is 169, substantially down from the 212 targets for the 12th session. However, the text is only 20 words shorter, from a total word count of 4389 to one of 4369. Thus, while the number of targets has decreased, the number of words within each target has increased almost as much. Overall, it is unlikely we can implement all these proposed interventions to reach all of these targets simultaneously, and completely. Therefore, the international development community will need to prioritize which targets to strive for first, or to devote more resources towards. This decision will rest on a number of factors, not just economics - but knowing the costs and benefits provides an important piece of information. 

Of course, the Post-2015 goals have yet to be finalized, and it is our hope this document will help UN representatives prioritize the final list of targets for replacing the Millennium Development Goals.

The assessments were put together by interviewing 32 of the world’s top economists in their respective fields. The benefits and costs do NOT solely reflect money. In line with standard welfare economics principles, all benefits and costs have been considered (such as improved health and improved environmental impacts) – which have subsequently been converted into a dollar value.

The key for assessments are:

PHENOMENAL – Robust evidence for benefits more than 15 times higher than costs
GOOD – Robust evidence of benefits between 5 to 15 times higher than costs
FAIR – Robust evidence of benefits between 1 to 5 times higher than costs
POOR – The benefits are smaller than costs or target poorly specified (e.g. internally inconsistent, incentivizes wrong activity)
UNCERTAIN – There is not enough knowledge of the policy options that could reach the target OR the costs and benefits of the actions to reach the target are not well known

07 Nov 21:43

Installation to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the...


Wow that's cool, wish I could see it in person.

AP Photo/Steffi Loos

Hannibal Hanschke / Reuters

Pawel Kopczynski / Reuters

Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters

AP Photo/Steffi Loos

Installation to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Lightgrenze, goes live.

07 Nov 15:30

‘Metal is Beautiful’, Hypnotic Super Slow Motion Video of Drill Creating Metal Shavings

by Brian Heater

via GN.

“Metal is Beautiful”
is a strangely hypnotic short video by YouTube channel 1stVideoChannel that features super slow motion video of a power drill creating metal shavings. The effect is strangely hypnotic.

via Digg

06 Nov 19:00

A Really Bad Month

by Jessica Olien


by Jessica Olien





Jessica Olien is a writer and illustrator who moves a lot.

05 Nov 09:00

What Are Literature, Philosophy & History For? Alain de Botton Explains with Monty Python-Style Videos

by Josh Jones

Saving for later.

Once upon a time, questions about the use-value of art were the height of philistinism. “All art is quite useless,” wrote the aesthete Oscar Wilde, presaging the attitudes of modernists to come. Explaining this statement in a letter to a perplexed fan, Wilde opined that art “is not meant to instruct, or to influence action in any way.” But if you ask Alain de Botton, founder of “cultural enterprise” The School of Life, art—or literature specifically—does indeed have a practical purpose. Four to be precise.

In a pitch that might appeal to Dale Carnegie, de Botton argues that literature: 1) Saves you time, 2) Makes you nicer, 3) Cures loneliness, and 4) Prepares you for failure. The format of his video above—“What is Literature For?”—may be formulaic, but the argument may not be so contrary to modernist dicta after all. Indeed, as William Carlos Williams famously wrote, “men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found” in poetry. How many people perish slowly over wasted time, meanness, loneliness, and broken dreams?

Like de Botton’s short video introductions to philosophers, which we featured in a previous post, “What is Literature For?” comes to us with Monty Python-like animation and pithy narration that makes quick work of a lot of complex ideas. Whether you find this inspiring or insipid will depend largely on how you view de Botton’s broad-brush, populist approach to the humanities in general. In any case, it’s true that people crave, and deserve, more accessible introductions to weighty subjects like literature and philosophy, subjects that—as de Botton says above in “What is Philosophy For?”—can seem “weird, irrelevant, boring….”

Here, contra Ludwig Wittgenstein’s claims that all philosophy is nothing more than confusion about language, de Botton expounds a very classical idea of the discipline: “Philosophers are people devoted to wisdom,” he says. And what is wisdom for? Its application, unsurprisingly, is also eminently practical. “Being wise,” we’re told, “means attempting to live and die well.” As someone once indoctrinated into the Byzantine cult of academic humanities, I have to say this definition seems to me especially reductive, but it does accord perfectly with The School of Life’s promise of “a variety of programmes and services concerned with how to live wisely and well.”

Lastly, we have de Botton’s explanation above, “What Is History For?” Most people, he claims, find the subject “boring.” Given the enormous popularity of historical drama, documentary film, novels, and popular non-fiction, I’m not sure I follow him here. The problem, it seems, is not so much that we don’t like history, but that we can never reach consensus on what exactly happened and what those happenings mean. This kind of uncertainty tends to make people very uncomfortable.

Unbothered by this problem, de Botton presses on, arguing that history, at its best, provides us with “solutions to the problems of the present.” It does so, he claims, by correcting our “bias toward the present.” He cites the obsessive jackhammering of 24-hour news, which shouts at us from multiple screens at all times. I have to admit, he’s got a point. Without a sense of history, it’s easy to become completely overwhelmed by the incessant chatter of the now. Perhaps more controversially, de Botton goes on to say that history is full of “good ideas.” Watch the video above and see if you find his examples persuasive.

All three of de Botton’s videos are brisk, upbeat, and very optimistic about our capacity to make good use of the humanities to better ourselves. Perhaps some of the more skeptical among us won’t be easily won over by his arguments, but they’re certainly worthy of debate and offer some very positive ways to approach the liberal arts. If you are persuaded, then dive into our collections of free literature, history and philosophy courses highlighted in the section below.

Related Content:

78 Free Online History Courses: From Ancient Greece to The Modern World

55 Free Online Literature Courses: From Dante and Milton to Kerouac and Tolkien

Download 100 Free Online Philosophy Courses & Start Living the Examined Life

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

What Are Literature, Philosophy & History For? Alain de Botton Explains with Monty Python-Style Videos is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post What Are Literature, Philosophy & History For? Alain de Botton Explains with Monty Python-Style Videos appeared first on Open Culture.

03 Nov 16:30

28 Important Philosophers List the Books That Influenced Them Most During Their College Days

by Dan Colman

@CC & @LD


The web site Demasiado Aire recently asked “some of the world’s most important philosophers which three books influenced them the most while undergraduate students.” And, from what we can tell, they got a good response. 28 influential philosophers dutifully jotted their lists, and, for at least the past day, Demasiado Aire has been offline, seemingly overwhelmed by traffic. Thanks to Google’s web caching technology, we can recover these lists and provide you with a few highlights. (Note: The original post is here.) We have added links to the texts cited by the philosophers. The free texts have an asterisk (*) next to them.

Charles Taylor (McGill University):

Phénoménologie de la Perception, Maurice Merleau-Ponty

The Brothers Karamazov*, Fyodor Dostoevsky

Jalons pour une théologie du Laïcat, Yves Congar

Daniel Dennett (Tufts University):

“That’s easy:

Word and Object, Quine.

The concept of mind*, Gilbert Ryle

Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein

“I got to study with Quine and Ryle, but Wittgenstein had died before I encountered his work”.

Alexander Nehamas (Princeton University):

Apology of Socrates*, Plato

Nicomachean Ethics*, Aristotle

Ethics*, Spinoza

“Also, I should point out that Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality* had a huge effect on me when I was a graduate student and had a formative influence on my philosophical development”.

David Chalmers (Australian National University):

“I was an undergraduate student in mathematics rather than philosophy, but the answer is”:

Gödel, Escher Bach, Douglas Hofstadter

The Mind’s I, Douglas Hofstadter & Daniel Dennett

Reasons and Persons, Derek Parfit

You can view lists by other philosophers, including Alain de Botton, Wendy Brown, Peter Millican, and more here: live pagecached page. The image above comes via by MjYj.

Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Google Plus and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox.

Related Content:

44 Essential Movies for the Student of Philosophy

Download 100 Free Philosophy Courses and Start Living the Examined Life

Philosopher Portraits: Famous Philosophers Painted in the Style of Influential Artists

28 Important Philosophers List the Books That Influenced Them Most During Their College Days is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

The post 28 Important Philosophers List the Books That Influenced Them Most During Their College Days appeared first on Open Culture.