Links June 2013


Cory Doctorow published a letter from a 14yo who had just read his novel “Homeland” [1]. I haven’t had anything insightful to say about Aaron Swartz, so I think that this link will do [2].

Seth Godin gave an interesting TED talk about leading tribes [3]. I think everyone who is active in the FOSS community should watch this talk.

Ron Garrett wrote an interesting post about the risk of being hit by a “dinosaur killer” [4]. We really need to do something about this and the cost of defending against asteroids is almost nothing compared to “defence” spending.

Afra Raymond gave an interesting TED talk about corruption [5]. He focussed on his country Trinidad and Tobago but the lessons apply everywhere.

Wikihouse is an interesting project that is based around sharing designs for houses that can be implemented using CNC milling machines [6]. It seems to be at the early stages but it has a lot of potential to change the building industry.

Here is a TED blog post summarising Dan Pallotta’s TED talk about fundraising for nonprofits [7]. His key point is that moral objections to advertising for charities significantly reduce their ability to raise funds and impacts the charitable mission. I don’t entirely agree with his talk which is very positive towards spending on promotion but I think that he makes some good points which people should consider.

Here is a TED blog post summarising Peter Singer’s TED talk about effective altruism [8]. His focus seems to be on ways of cheaply making a significant difference which doesn’t seem to agree with Dan Pallotta’s ideas.

Patton Oswalt wrote an insightful article about the culture of stand-up comedians which starts with joke stealing and heckling and ends with the issue of rape jokes [9].

Karen Eng wrote an interesting TED blog post about Anthony Vipin’s invention of HAPTIC shoes for blind people [10]. The vibration of the shoes tells the person which way to walk and a computer sees obstacles that need to be avoided.

David Blaine gave an interesting TED talk about how he prepared for a stunt of holding his breath for 17 minutes [11].

3 thoughts on “Links June 2013”

  1. Interesting and informative links as usual.

    You do realise the David Blaine performance was just that right? Entertaining but fake. I thought the tearing up was almost as skilled as Derryn Brown (psychological manipulation).

    It’ll be interesting to see if your blog receives the legal avalanche of take down demands other explanations of the “trick” (that’s what is was) got. If so, read them carefully, the demands are based on ‘proprietary knowledge’ not defamation.

    The greatest respect for free divers, and ‘static apnea” (which is the record he faked breaking) athletes. Particularly those brave US Navy divers who laid the groundwork for the trick. For the curious, the reason he brought his own ‘water’ to the Oprah Show, why the tank was spherical, and why his heart rate was high throughout the trick – is that he used perfluorocarbons not water. They aren’t cheap, and it’s impossible to keep your heart rate low when you use PFCs (due to respiratory acidosis), even when liberally pre-dosed with diazepam.

    PFCs have come along way since the original Navy trials, Oxycyte, Oxygent and Perftoran, don’t produce the same reactions as the original mixtures, and the initial reaction is considerably reduced by IV infusions prior to immersion (now a standard surgical procedure as part of treating IED injuries).

    Great trick by a skilled entertainer, an extreme performance, but a trick never-the-less.

  2. etbe says:

    I didn’t realise it was fake, but given that his job is faking things I guess it’s not a great surprise.

    I think it would be fun to swim in PFCs, but I doubt that my wife would let me.

  3. @etbe

    Fake indeed (I was keeping the temperature/wetsuit “proof” in reserve).

    Don’t use PFCs – unless it’s for cardiac surgery. There are serious long-term side effects.

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