Icosian Reflections

…a tendency to systematize and a keen sense

that we live in a broken world.

April 10 Links: The Once and Future Friday Tradition

Back after more than two months, the Friday linkwrap!

(Does anyone else get as excited for these as I do? No, right?)

So, I've been pretty delinquent about these, but at least I've had the decency to keep stashing things I found worth reading at Reading Feed, with backlogs at Reading Feed (March 2015) and Reading Feed (February 2015).


WSJ | China to Start Keeping a List of Badly Behaved Tourists sounded pretty scary -- until I read the article and realized that the measures are directed at Chinese citizens abroad, not visitors to China. And then it all sorta made sense, conditioned on China being, 'yknow, China.

Said Chinese president Xi Jinping:

Don't throw water bottles everywhere, don't destroy people's coral reefs and eat fewer instant noodles and more local seafood. (...)


On the topic of environmentalism, I'm on the record opining that pressuring the Harvard Management Corporation to divest from fossil fuels is a red herring, but that doesn't mean that digging up all of the of the known deposits of fossil fuels and burning them would be exactly as horrible as you'd expect: (all numbers Fahrenheit)

The next set of fossil fuels in line is referred to as resources, rather than reserves. The difference is that they are recoverable with today’s technology, but not at current prices. There is 3.1 degrees’ worth of warming if the oil and natural gas in this category are utilized, which would lead to a total increase in global temperatures of 7.6 degrees.

This warming does not even consider our coal resources. A middle-of-the-road estimate of the coal that qualifies as resources indicates that its use would lead to an additional increase of 8.6 degrees. Thus, the use of all reserves and resources would lead to a total increase of 16.2 degrees. Today’s climate and planet would very likely be unrecognizable.

16.2 degrees Fahrenheit is a lot -- that would probably have made Boston's snowiest winter in recorded history a lot less snowy.


Related by way of being from the future:

Robotic, flapping butterflies. Robotic. Flapping. Butterflies. Butterflies.


In other minimalist-design news, LA's new parking signs are brilliant...

A parking sign prototype, featuring a red/green-shaded grid of dates/times.

...and the designer, Nikki Sylianteng (who's released the designs CC-noncommericial!), runs a blog about them which is pretty neat.


Elsewhere in "guerrilla parking sign redesign project[s]" in L.A.: Richard Ankrom hung a fake sign on the LA freeway...

A man in a construction hat and vest hangs an "Interstate 5" shield on a freeway signboard.

...to correct bad labeling by the DoT that was causing commuters to miss their exit.

More than eight years after Ankrom’s sign went up, he got a call from a friend who noticed some workers taking it down. It had been replaced as part of routine maintenance. (...)

But the story of how he made such a perfect copy is actually fantastic and well worth a read.


And, in yet more transportation news, I Quant NY declares victory in the $19.05 fight, with a patch to MTA machines that allows you to purchase exactly 11 rides, without any change left on your card.

Purchase screen for MTA cards, giving a $27.25 option.

And from Medium: Why And How to Protest (and Rightfully Screw the MTA over for) the 2015 Fare Hike.

tl;dr It's illegal to sell a MetroCard swipe (whether you're on a fare-limited or duration-limited card), but apparently it's not against the Conditions of Use to give away "unlimited" swipes for free. Though it does leave you unable to use the same card again for 18 minutes, so you have to do it on your way out of the station. And, very technically speaking, you aren't allowed to use it again until the person you swiped gets off their train.

But details, details...I guess you're within your legal rights to occasionally rip off the MTA $2.50 $2.75 -- moral rights still up for debate.


_And..._quick, which US city has the highest LGBT population? No, not that one, try again:

Because come on: Number of musicals about gay people in New York I know every lyric to: 1 more than any other city on this list.

And, I don't have the time to write them up, but here's just a dump of some more things, in an attempt to make up for more than two months' delinquency:

Some recipients of insecticide-treated anti-mosquito bednets use them as fishing nets instead; Against Malaria seems to have headed off the problem with better pre- and post- distribution survey checks.

Why does the ISS have such a weird shape?

TrueCrypt, that old dinosaur, is probably secure.

The TSA collected $638,142.64 in change left in airport bins.

How to use a burner phone properly.

The Met makes 422 art books available for free.

The history of Xerox is really cool (and I have a post).

Ravens Linesman John Urschel loves math, still plays football.

LessWrong runs a reading group for Eliezer Yudkowsky's book, Rationality: From AI to Zombies.

Approximately 10% of engineering students at MIT have a 4.95 / 5.0 GPA or higher.

Scott Alexander explains how a rogue AI could take over the world, even without access to Terminator-style physical machines.

An (OkCupid Bullshit)-to-Engligh translator.

Hex codes for every major sports team.

Virtual Reality startup Wearality Kickstarts their new fold-up-and-stick-in-your-pocket, sub-$100 VR headset.