Bloomberg says: Germany and Brazil

Friday, 4 July, 2014 0 Comments

The Bloomberg World Cup 2014 Predictions & Results team have been uncanny in the accuracy of their predictions to date. For this evening’s games, they’re going with Germany and Brazil, which should please lots of people, except the fans of France and Colombia. As regards the final, they’re sticking with Brazil vs. Argentina, with a win for the home side.

10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings

Thursday, 3 July, 2014 1 Comment

Over at Medium, the aspiring writer and accomplished pedestrian Sarah Cooper reveals 10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings:

10. Make fun of yourself

If someone asks what you think, and you honestly didn’t hear a single word anyone said for the last hour, just say,
‘I honestly didn’t hear a single word anyone said for the last hour.” People love self-deprecating humor. Say things like, “Maybe we can just use the lawyers from my divorce,’ or ‘God I wish I was dead.’ They’ll laugh, value your honesty, consider contacting H.R., but most importantly, think you’re the smartest person in the room.

The impossible Lionel Messi

Wednesday, 2 July, 2014 0 Comments

Benjamin Morris, who researches and writes about sports for FiveThirtyEight, has produced a monumental piece on Lionel Messi. Snippet:

“Messi makes more passes than the other forwards, with a higher percentage of those passes trying to advance the ball toward the goal, and a higher percentage of those passes finding their targets (typical Messi!). His 3,800-plus completed forward passes are nearly twice as many as any forward in our data set (Francesco Totti for FC Roma has 2,200, followed by Wayne Rooney, the English striker, with 1,800 and Ronaldo with 1,500).”


Facebook needs an ethical code

Tuesday, 1 July, 2014 0 Comments

So, Facebook manipulated users’ feeds for a psychology experiment. Why is this is controversial? Over at Animal, Sophie Weiner explains:

“Apparently what many of us feared is already a reality: Facebook is using us as lab rats, and not just to figure out which ads we’ll respond to but to actually change our emotions. According to the authors of this study, it was all perfectly legal. Using an algorithm that can recognize negative or positive words, the researchers were able to comb through NewsFeeds without actually viewing any text that may have been protected under users’ privacy settings. “As such, it was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research,” the study’s authors wrote. That’s right: You consented to be randomly selected for this kind of research when you signed up for Facebook. Might want to check out that User Policy again.”

Is anyone is surprised by this?

Pre-metric weights and measures

Monday, 30 June, 2014 0 Comments

Gooseberries have been a popular fruit in Ireland since as far back as Elizabethan times. Right now, they are bright green, and quite hard and tart, which makes them ideal for making gooseberry fool.


Flight Brigade

Saturday, 28 June, 2014 0 Comments

The music of Flight Brigade has been described as a dark dystopian soundscape of triumphant optimism that’s filtered “through a lifting combination of driving piano, soaring strings, accelerating guitars and intertwining harmonies.”

Look Out, Belgium!

Friday, 27 June, 2014 0 Comments

“Germany are the most complete team in the tournament. They have the top goal poachers and a great goalkeeper; they have a midfield packed with creativity and greed for the ball. And they are Germany! More than Italy, Spain, and any other European power, they advance through the World Cup with demoralizing consistency. To be paired against them is to have a strong suspicion of the unfortunate outcome. Their history implants itself in the brain.”

So writes Franklin Foer in Bravo, Klinsmann. And Look Out, Belgium! Foer is the author of How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, and along with Aleksandar Hemon and Karl Ove Knausgaard he’s leading coverage of the World Cup for The New Republic.

Finding Vivian Maier

Thursday, 26 June, 2014 0 Comments

Excellent documentary about a mysterious nanny, who secretly took over 100,000 photographs and hid them in storage lockers. They were discovered decades later, and Vivian Maier is ranked now among the 20th century’s greatest photographers.

Football is war by other means

Wednesday, 25 June, 2014 0 Comments

Documentary maker Errol Morris invites Nobel Peace Prize winners and nominees to talk about how important the World Cup is for their countries.

Writer’s block

Wednesday, 14 May, 2014 0 Comments

“All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged. If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. That’s why privacy is so important. You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.” Erica Jong

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” Hilary Mantel

Fighting illiteracy with e-books: There’s an app for that

Monday, 28 April, 2014 0 Comments

The San Francisco-based non-profit organization Worldreader distributes e-books in poor countries. Its app, which has more than 300,000 users in the developing world, lets people choose from over 6,000 e-books on low-end mobile phones, and Worldreader says it’s delivered nearly 1.7 million e-books since its launch in 2010.

A new UNESCO study (PDF 1.6MB) based on interviews with 5,000 Worldreader app users looks at reading habits in seven countries — Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Zimbabwe — where the average illiteracy rate is 34 percent among adults and 20 percent among children, and the conclusions are uplifting. Snippet:

280414reading “The tendency of digital reading to increase overall reading is not limited to Worldreader Mobile users. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in the USA observed that the overall reading consumption of individuals tends to increase following the adoption of digital reading. The Pew report shows that, over the course of 12 months, users reading e-books read 24 books on average, while the average number of books read by non-e-book readers was 15 (Pew Internet, 2012). For champions of literacy this trend is extremely promising, as it suggests that the benefits of mobile reading are exponential and may accelerate literacy development.”

Without a decent educational system, greater access to books won’t necessarily raise literacy levels, but greater access to books can nurture a love of reading and writing and expose readers to unimagined new worlds. UNESCO puts it like this: “While it is true that books, by themselves, will not remedy the scourge of illiteracy, without them illiteracy is guaranteed.” The Worldreader e-book initiative deserves our support.