Our wildest fantasy: if only the French ran America…

The current issue of People magazine has revealed what le tout Washington knew anyway: that Barack Obama has been having an affair with Jennifer Aniston. This intrusion took place despite the president’s creditable attempts at discretion: putting aside the normal trappings of office, he travelled to Ms Aniston’s flat in the evening and left in the morning (after bagels had been brought by the Secret Service) on a scooter, wearing a helmet with the visor down to conceal his face.

A mysterious law that predicts the size of the world’s biggest cities

The city with the largest population in any country is generally twice as large as the next-biggest, and so on. Incredibly, Zipf’s law for cities has held true for every country in the world, for the past century.

People don’t actually like creativity.


We are taught that our own creativity will be celebrated as well, and that if we have good ideas, we will succeed.

It’s all a lie. This is the thing about creativity that is rarely acknowledged: Most people don’t actually like it. Studies confirm what many creative people have suspected all along: People are biased against creative thinking, despite all of their insistence otherwise.

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs


If someone had designed a work regime perfectly suited to maintaining the power of finance capital, it’s hard to see how they could have done a better job. Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc) – and particularly its financial avatars – but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value. Clearly, the system was never consciously designed. It emerged from almost a century of trial and error. But it is the only explanation for why, despite our technological capacities, we are not all working 3-4 hour days.

Chairman Mao Invented Traditional Chinese Medicine

Ultimately, however, the existence of qi, acupuncture meridians, and the Triple Energizer is no more inherently plausible than that of demons, the four humors, or the healing power of God. It’s just that Mao swindled us, taking advantage of a principle identified by G.K. Chesterton in 1925:

I am convinced that if we could tell the supernatural story of Christ word for word as of a Chinese hero, call him the Son of Heaven instead of the Son of God, and trace his rayed nimbus in the gold thread of Chinese embroideries or the gold lacquer of Chinese pottery, instead of in the gold leaf of our own old Catholic paintings, there would be a unanimous testimony to the spiritual purity of the story.

There is indeed a shortage of primary care providers in America, along with an appallingly large underserved population. But as Mao realized, solving such problems is a daunting task. In America it would require increased funding for medical care, unpopular regulation of the medical industry, and substantive lifestyle changes. It’s easier to believe in miracles, panaceas, and natural healing powers. Nowadays one of the most popular alternative solutions, enshrined in the Senate resolution, is a gift from Chairman Mao.

Were Brutalist Buildings on College Campuses Really Designed to Thwart Student Riots?

Assuming that your campus did have a Brutalist building, you’ve probably been told a lie about it that goes something like, “Hideous, right? The administration chose that design because it was good at preventing student riots and occupations.”


An ancient Roman bridge spans the Wadi al Murr in Mosul, Iraq, 1920.Photograph by M. V. Oppenheim, National Geographic


An ancient Roman bridge spans the Wadi al Murr in Mosul, Iraq, 1920.Photograph by M. V. Oppenheim, National Geographic

40% Off Prison Architect: Build and Manage a Maximum Security Prison

See Also KCWR Design and Architecture 20 Aug 2013:

Should Architects Design for Solitary Confinement?

A hunger strike in California state prisons calls for an end to indefinite solitary confinement in Security Housing Units, known as SHUs. Raphael Sperry has challenged fellow architects to ban the design of SHUs. Beverly Prior responds, reflecting on a career designing for incarceration. Joe Day sees societal values mirrored in the growth of both American prisons and museums.

Burning Man’s 11 Rules for Drones


Hello fellow RC pilots and hobbyists! Black Rock City has a very crowded airspace, so we want you to be aware of some of the things you might encounter in the air above the city. There is a very busy airport, skydivers, long blinky strands of balloons, and many artworks that may extend up into the airspace above the city. Below are some fresh guidelines put together by a few volunteer RC pilots and fellow Burners who want to encourage the safe and responsible use of radio control unmanned aerial vehicles (RC/UAV) on the playa.

  1. Be safe! Avoid flying over large crowds or densely populated areas. If you crash into a crowd you can seriously injure people. Follow the AMA safety code when flying any RC device. If you injure someone, you are responsible.
  2. If your RC/UAV has a camera and you will record video/still photos from it, you need be aware of the video and photography guidelines in Black Rock City. Additionally, all RC/UAV with cameras need to register with Media Mecca*.
  3. Don’t fly near the airport. The airport is located at 5:00 and the trash fence. (See map)
  4. Don’t fly near the emergency helipad - Located near Point 1, and another by the airport, usually set up quickly (for emergencies, duh) so stay away from that whole area.
  5. On the day of the Man burn (Saturday, September 1, 2013), RC/UAV, helicopters (be they full sized or models) or any other aircraft shall not be flown within the borders of the Great Circle (around the Man) from 7 AM until after the conclusion of the show.
  6. The primary reasoning for this is that the pyrotechnics can be set off by static electricity which is caused by any aircraft, therefore creating a very hazardous environment for the pyrotechnics crew working on, in, and around the structure. Secondarily the possibility of loss of control of the aircraft could cause damage to the structure, Man Base, or harm the working personnel in the area.
  7. Join the RC/UAV mailing list and say hi to other RC/UAV pilots!
  8. Flying around the temple during the burn is greatly discouraged and could lead to a ban in 2014. If you are not using an FRSS radio (ie. you are using a 72Mhz or 27Mhz radio that uses specific channels) please email your channel request to rchobbyist@burningman.com to reserve your channel.
  9. Consider using a spotter / assistant to help keep an eye out for dangers or to handle observers coming up to talk to you while flying.
  10. Weather in BRC can be very unpredictable and dangerous. Wind gusts come and go, along with zero visibility dust storms. Be aware and don’t fly during bad weather, and be ready to land quickly if you see a dust storm coming.
  11. Be aware that BRC is at an elevation of about 3,900 feet, which means your props will be less efficient at keeping your RC/UAV in the air. Be ready for reduced flight times because of this.

* Note: The media form says you don’t need to register for personal use, but that exemption does not apply for UAV pilots.

via The Economist Babbage Blog

Galaxy’s Child

Beyonce’s dad was a trekkie, perhaps.

Type Hunting

via kottke.org

Cruz will renounce Canadian citizenship

Now the Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. senator; I believe I should be only an American.