Download the SXSW 100

March 29th, 2015

South by Southwest or SXSW was held in Austin a couple of weeks ago. Even the mayor of Toronto went. NPR was there and the hosts of All Songs Considered have put together a play list of 100 songs from some of the performers. You can stream the songs or download the whole thing as a .zip file until April 2.

There’s a lot of music on this page — 100 songs, to be exact, each from an artist worth discovering at this year’s SXSW Music Festival. It’s more than six genre-defying hours of music.

Still, we started out with far more to choose from. It took an enormous amount of effort to get here: Thousands of acts play SXSW each year, enough that winnowing them down to 100 required months of seeking, listening, culling and decision-making. What remains are some of SXSW 2015’s most thrilling discoveries and highlights — and you can download them all from right here, either individually or in one 795 MB .zip file, until April 2, 2015.

Checking some credentials

March 27th, 2015

So, you see a science story on FOX News and another on PBS. Which one should you trust. Compare the credentials of their reporters. Here’s a sample from the article.

PBS:

  • Joe Palca, who worked as an editor for Nature, a senior correspondent for Science Magazine, and a science writer in residence at the Huntington Library, and has won the National Academies Communications Award, the Science-in-Society Award of the National Association of Science Writers, the American Chemical Society James T. Grady-James H. Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public, the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Prize, and the Victor Cohn Prize for Excellence in Medical Writing. Palca holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Cruz.
  • Rob Stein, who worked at The Washington Post for 16 years, first as the newspaper’s science editor and then as a national health reporter. He’s also been a science reporter for United Press International (UPI) in Boston and the science editor of the international wire service in Washington. He completed a program in science and religion at the University of Cambridge, and a summer science writer’s workshop at the Marine Biological Laboratory, and has been honored by the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association of Health Care Journalists.

FOX:

  • Jenn Gidman, a “creative editor, writer, blogger, and content manager”. Her specialties include, “social media analysis”, “blogging about entertainment”, “parenting”, and “branding/marketing”.
  • Brian Mastroianni, who received a journalism degree “with a concentration in arts and culture reporting”. Skills and interests: “basic video shooting”, “digital editing”, “HTML and web page design”, “newspaper/magazine page design”, and “on-camera reporting”.

How Long Does Food Last?

March 24th, 2015

A lot of food gets wasted unnecessarily because the best before dates on packages are usually very conservative. Here’s a site that will tell you how long you can safely use almost any food. The information includes whether the packaging has been opened or not and whether the food has been kept refrigerated or frozen.

We are a group of contributors from the kitchen and classroom communities who set out to answer the question, “How long does food really last?”. From the best ingredients to the ordinary, we provide you with a diverse and informative perspective on food shelf life, food safety, expiration dates, recipes, substitutions, food storage and more. We are focused on helping you save money, eat healthy, and debunk the myth of expiration dates on food.

The 12 Ultimate Tips for Composition in Art

March 23rd, 2015

In photography, one of the things that separates great photographers from the merely good is their eye for composition. It’s something that you know when you see it, even if you can’t explain what makes it work. Some people have a natural talent for composition, others have to learn it. There are guidelines and tips that you can follow that will help to improve the composition of your photos (or your art, if you are an artist). I’ve seen many articles about composition and The 12 ultimate tips for composition in art is one of the better ones.

A strong composition is crucial to a successful piece of art. It’s what will attract a viewer’s eye, and what will hold their attention once they take a closer look.

It can mean the difference between an action-packed piece of art and a solemn, contemplative one. But how do you make a composition convey the mood you want, and what is it that makes a composition successful?

There are a many long-standing rules regarding what makes a good composition, such as the Golden Ratio, the Golden Spiral and the Rule of Thirds. But they aren’t really rules at all!

Think of them as suggestions… or better yet, as optional templates. Traditional methods like these are just one answer to a problem which has an infinite number of solutions. Their purpose is just to offer a simple method for an artist to use to make a more pleasing image.

The Transformation of American Society

March 22nd, 2015

In 5 Powerful Shifts Transforming American Society into an Unrecognizable and Frightening Future, Tom Engelhardt points out five trends that are transforming American society into something that’s really unrecognizable to someone who grew up in the 1950s and 60s. The changes are profound and the article does a good job of explaining both their causes and their results. And our Fearless Leader in Ottawa seems to be pushing Canada headlong down the same path.

Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.”

Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

Original Interstellar ending was more realistic

March 21st, 2015

Warning: spoilers ahead.

I liked Interstellar a lot, but the ending didn’t mesh well with the scientific realism of the rest of the movie. It turns out that the ending came from director Chris Nolan, and the original ending, written by his brother and co-writer, Jonathan Nolan, was more realistic and considerably darker. I think I would have preferred it, but I’m not very representative of mainstream audience tastes.

At the end of the film [SPOILERS], we see Matthew McConaughey’s character jettison himself into the singularity of the black hole Gargantua. He makes the deadly journey in the hopes of characterizing gravity acting at the smallest scales inside, and to send that data back to Earth. He survives the descent, but then finds himself inside a 5th-dimensional “tesseract,” which he uses to peruse the timeline of his life and contact his daughter’s younger self.

That’s the ending that has had audiences and scientists alike scratching their heads. I have my own (probably incorrect) theory of what the heck happened, but I was eager to hear it directly from the script’s original writer.

Jonathan Nolan’s much more straight-forward ending “had the Einstien-Rosen bridge [colloquially, a wormhole] collapse when Cooper tries to send the data back.”

So no tesseract (that was Christopher’s idea), no time manipulation, and no return home. Nolan didn’t elaborate on this point, but we might speculate that the original end to the movie was as dark and unforgiving as space.