Skip to main content

Pocket reading list : Part 7

Albert Woodfox’s Forty Years in Solitary Confinement : I don't know if there's such a thing as solitary confinement in Indian prisons but the idea sounds kind of absurd. I've read a couple of other articles on the short term and long term effects of long term isolation, isolation not just from human company but isolation from pretty much everything on Earth other than food, water or air. This is the absurd story of how one man has been confined in solitary confinement and his attempts to repeal the state's decision and get out of jail have all been in vain. This article goes brilliantly with another one that talks about how much power parole boards yield in the USA.

Mapping how the United States generates its electricity : I love beautiful visualizations and there are a couple of news outlets that make good ones. This is one of those. If you're looking for more, Upshot by the NYT might be a good place to start.

New Laws Explain Why Fast-Growing Networks Break : Humans have been studying networks, in one form or another, for a very long time. We've been studying human migration or spread diseases in urban population and so on. This is a rudimentary review of the complex science of networks.

The Science of ‘Inside Out’ : I am yet to watch the movie but I've heard great things. Including the fact that depression and sadness were shown in good light instead of being depicted as bad things. Depression is something that everyone deals with at some point or the other in life and the sooner the social stigma related to it disappears, the better it is for all of us.  And the movie did a good job at talking about how human emotions vary between the genders and how they vary depending on age.

Nepal’s Aid System Is Broken. So These Lifesavers Hacked It : This is another great example of how awesome the internet can be if put to good use. We've all heard of the nepal earthquake and the disaster that ensued. Thousands of men and women poured in as part of relief efforts, coordinated by numerous teams from around the world. But there was a small number of people who did a better job than most apparently, by coordinating better with people on the ground and the localites.

Warren Buffett’s Family Secretly Funded a Birth Control Revolution : Birth control is a very controversial topic in the USA, from what I understand. Again, I don't know what the situation is in India, sadly. Given that most forms of female birth control are costly, especially UTIs, governments themselves aren't able to support the subsidize them to be adopted en-large. This is where a private donor came in to pitch in a lot of money. And all signs point to Warren Buffett's foundation.

Sentinel’s Mission to Find 500,000 Near-Earth Asteroids : At some point or the other, we've all read a story on how an asteroid is passing very close to the Earth and how there's a very good chance that it'll strike us and we'll be wiped off the face of the Earth. Well, the chances of that happening are low. Very low. But sadly enough, they're not zero. This is where the Sentinel comes in. It's an ambitious mission to discover and track almost all of the Near-Earth asteroids big enough to cause a substantial amount of damage to us if they happen to crash into Earth.

Absurd Creature of the Week: The Tough-as-Hell Antarctic Fish With Antifreeze for Blood : It never ceases to amaze me that even in the hottest, coldest, most acidic places on Earth, there is life. This is one such example of aquatic life in the Antarctic.

Into the deep : I'd read about flotation tanks at some point or the other and came across them in a weird trippy movie which turned humans that entered them into pre-historic animals. Either way, coming back to the point, flotation tanks are water bodies in which one is barely submerged and cut off of any sensory perception. It's hard enough to keep the voices and thoughts in my head from overpowering me when I'm around people and day-to-day life. I can only imagine what happens if they go into overdrive. But it is something I want to experience nevertheless.

Why We Hurt Each Other: Tolstoy’s Letters to Gandhi on Love, Violence, and the Truth of the Human Spirit : Isn't the title enough to lure you into reading the article. It's an interesting take on why love conquers all.

And that is the end of this series of posts flooding people's news feeds. I shall now try posting once a week, which will be the favorites of the week. But no more spamming posts on Facebook. I don't see any response and I am no longer motivated to be active on Facebook. There were apparently a billion (with a B) people active on Facebook yesterday. Doesn't make much of a difference if everyone just wants to be fed what they want to fear and if people don't have a thirst for knowledge anymore. It's a sign of a larger illness in our society, one which I hope won't persist.

Popular posts from this blog

Animation using GNUPlot

Animation using GNUPlotI've been trying to create an animation depicting a quasar spectrum moving across the 5 SDSS pass bands with respect to redshift. It is important to visualise what emission lines are moving in and out of bands to be able to understand the color-redshift plots and the changes in it.
I've tried doing this using the animate function in matplotlib, python but i wasn't able to make it work - meaning i worked on it for a couple of days and then i gave up, not having found solutions for my problems on the internet.
And then i came across this site, where the gunn-peterson trough and the lyman alpha forest have been depicted - in a beautiful manner. And this got me interested in using js and d3 to do the animations and make it dynamic - using sliders etc.
In the meanwhile, i thought i'd look up and see if there was a way to create animations in gnuplot and whoopdedoo, what do i find but nirvana!

In the image, you see 5 static curves and one dynam…

on MOOCs.

For those of you who don't know, MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Course.

The internet is an awesome thing. It's making education free for all. Well, mostly free. But it's surprising at the width and depth of courses being offered online. And it looks like they are also having an impact on students, especially those from universities that are not top ranked. Students in all parts of the world can now get a first class education experience, thanks to courses offered by Stanford, MIT, Caltech, etc.

I'm talking about MOOCs because one of my new year resolutions is to take online courses, atleast 2 per semester (6 months). And I've chosen the following two courses on edX - Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R Server and Data Science Essentials for now. I looked at courses on Coursera but I couldn't find any which was worthy and free. There are a lot more MOOC providers out there but let's start here. And I feel like the two courses are relevant to where I …

On programmers.

I just watched this brilliant keynote today. It's a commentary on Programmers and the software development industry/ecosystem as a whole.



I am not going to give you a tl;dr version of the talk because it is a talk that I believe everyone should watch, that everyone should learn from. Instead, I am going to give my own parallel-ish views on programmers and programming.
As pointed out in the talk, there are mythical creatures in the software development industry who are revered as gods. Guido Van Rossum, the creator of Python, was given the title Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL). People flock around the creators of popular languages or libraries. They are god-like to most programmers and are treated like gods. By which, I mean to say, we assume they don't have flaws. That they are infallible. That they are perfect.
And alongside this belief in the infallibility of these Gods, we believe that they were born programmers. That programming is something that people are born wit…