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Links February 2013

Aaron on Software wrote an interesting series of blog posts about psychology and personal development collectively Titled “Raw Nerve”, here’s a link to part 2 [1]. The best sections IMHO are 2, 3, and 7.

The Atlantic has an insightful article by Thomas E. Ricks about the failures in leadership in the US military that made the problems in Afghanistan and Iraq a lot worse than they needed to be [2]

Kent Larson gave an interesting TED talk about how to fit more people in cities [3]. He covers issues of power use, transport, space use, and sharing. I particularly liked the apartments that transform and the design for autonomous vehicles that make eye contact with pedestrians.

Andrew McAfee gave an interesting TED talk titled “Are Droids Taking Our Jobs” [4]. I don’t think he adequately supported his conclusion that computers and robots are making things better for everyone (he also presented evidence that things are getting worse for many people), but it was an interesting talk anyway.

I Psychopath is an interesting documentary about Sam Vaknin who is the world’s most famous narcissist [5]. The entire documentary is available from Youtube and it’s really worth watching.

The movie Toy Story has been recreated in live action by a couple of teenagers [6]. That’s a huge amount of work.

Rory Stewart gave an interesting TED talk about how to rebuild democracy [7]. I think that his arguments against using the consequences to argue for democracy and freedom (he suggests not using the “torture doesn’t work” and “women’s equality doubles the workforce” arguments) are weak, but he made interesting points all through his talk.

Ernesto Sirolli gave an interesting TED talk about aid work and development work which had a theme of “Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!” [8]. That made me think of Mary Gardiner’s much quoted line from the comments section of her Wikimania talk which was also “shut up and listen”.

Waterloo Labs has some really good engineering Youtube videos [9]. The real life Mario Kart game has just gone viral but there are lots of other good things like the iPhone controlled car and eye controlled Mario Brothers.

Robin Chase of Zipcar gave an interesting TED talk about various car sharing systems (Zipcar among others), congestion taxes, the environmental damage that’s caused by cars, mesh networks, and other things [10]. She has a vision of a future where most cars are shared and act as nodes in a giant mesh network.

Madeleine Albright gave an interesting TED talk about being a female diplomat [11]. She’s an amazing speaker.

Ron Englash gave an interesting TED talk about the traditional African use of fractals [12]. Among the many interesting anecdotes concerning his research in Africa he was initiated as a priest after explaining Georg Cantor’s set theories.

Racialicious has an insightful article about the low expectations that members of marginalised groups have of members of the privileged groups [13].

Rick Falkvinge has a radical proposal for reforming copyrights with a declared value system [14]. I don’t think that this will ever get legislative support, but if it did I think it would work well for books and songs. I think that some thought should be given to how this would work for Blogs and other sources of periodical content. Obviously filing for every blog post would be an unreasonable burden. Maybe aggregating a year of posts into one copyright assignment block would work.

Scott Fraser gave an interesting TED talk about the problem with eyewitness testimony [15]. He gave a real-world example of what had to be done to get an innocent man acquitted, it’s quite amazing.

Sarah Kendzior wrote an interesting article for al Jazeera about the common practice in American universities to pay Adjunct Professors wages that are below the poverty line [16]. That’s just crazy, when students pay record tuition fees there’s more than enough money to pay academics decent wages, where does all the money go to anyway?

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