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Human Stupidity

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Interesting read: The five universal laws of human stupidity, by Corinne Purtill.

(via Adam)

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steingart
8 hours ago
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upper left quadrant doesn't compute: that's not helpless, it's the definition of sacrifice.
Princeton, NJ
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cjheinz
5 days ago
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Hmmm.

If you can’t explain something in simple terms, you don’t understand it

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Feynman Blackboard

In the early 1960s, Richard Feynman gave a series of undergraduate lectures that were collected into a book called the Feynman Lectures on Physics. Absent from the book was a lecture Feynman gave on planetary motion, but a later finding of the notes enabled David Goodstein, a colleague of Feynman’s, to write a book about it: Feynman’s Lost Lecture. From an excerpt of the book published in a 1996 issue of Caltech’s Engineering & Science magazine:

Feynman was a truly great teacher. He prided himself on being able to devise ways to explain even the most profound ideas to beginning students. Once, I said to him, “Dick, explain to me, so that I can understand it, why spin one-half particles obey Fermi-Dirac statistics.” Sizing up his audience perfectly, Feynman said, “I’ll prepare a freshman lecture on it.” But he came back a few days later to say, “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t reduce it to the freshman level. That means we don’t really understand it.”

John Gruber writes the simple explanations are the goal at Apple as well:

Engineers are expected to be able to explain a complex technology or product in simple, easily-understood terms not because the executive needs it explained simply to understand it, but as proof that the engineer understands it completely.

Feynman was well known for simple explanations of scientific concepts that result a in deeper understanding of the subject matter: e.g. see Feynman explaining how fire is stored sunshine, rubber bands, how trains go around curves, and magnets. Critically, he’s also not shy about admitting when he doesn’t understand something…or, alternately, when scientists as a group don’t understand something. There’s the spin anecdote above and of his explanation of magnets, he says:

I really can’t do a good job, any job, of explaining magnetic force in terms of something else you’re more familiar with, because I don’t understand it in terms of anything else you’re more familiar with.

Feynman was also quoted as saying:

I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.

Pretty interesting thing to hear from a guy who won a Nobel Prize for explaining quantum mechanics better than anyone ever had before. Even when he died in 1988 at the end of a long and fruitful careeer, a note at the top of his blackboard read:

What I cannot create, I do not understand.

Tags: Apple   books   David Goodstein   Feynman’s Lost Lecture   John Gruber   physics   Richard Feynman   science   The Feynman Lectures on Physics
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steingart
8 days ago
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"Engineers are expected to be able to explain a complex technology or product in simple, easily-understood terms not because the executive needs it explained simply to understand it, but as proof that the engineer understands it completely."

Mmmm mm.

The Feynman quote is gold: the grubes pandering is wrong AF: just because Feynman is right doesn't mean grubes is.
Princeton, NJ
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This is a Terrible Pun and I’m Ashamed of Myself for Thinking of It

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But not so ashamed that I won’t share it. And so timely:

You’re welcome.


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steingart
12 days ago
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Princeton, NJ
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Readivac Portable Canister Vacuum $38

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  • A corded-but-portable vacuum that doubles as a ghost-bustin’ Halloween costume accessory
  • In the sweet spot between power and portability, or in the sour spot depending on your needs and preferences
  • Weighs only 3 pounds with a 850 watt motor so you can thoroughly vac every cranny
  • You can get an idea of the size from this user-made demo video
  • The pet hair removing brush should not be used on the pet itself
  • Includes an inflator attachment for air mattresses or other inflatables
  • Model: 36500GB (We are sad to report that despite this model number, there is not a 36 terabyte hard drive in the vacuum)

My Favorite Songs That Suck

Hey, Meh contributor @JasonToon here. I ran through my quota of vacuum cleaner “suck” puns my first week on the job at Woot, but for this weekend playlist, I thought it would be a good excuse to come clean about my own musical shame. I think, if you’re not susceptible to the wiles of the occasional awful but for some reason irresistible song, you’re not quite human. So this week I’m revealing the songs everybody else hates - sometimes even me - but that I also kind of like, for no reason I could ever explain. It’s also compiled in a YouTube playlist to expedite my indictment before the court of good taste.

Snow - “Informer” (1992)
Still working on perfecting my karaoke version of this, but when I get it right, my karaoke rivals will get licky-boom-boom-downed.

Spandau Ballet - “True” (1983)
That Calgon “soul” bath, the whimpering vocal hook, the awesome self-regard of the lyrics (“This is the sound of my soul”) - and then that sax solo. A terrible, incredible achievement I can’t turn away from.

Hanson - “Mmmbop” (1997)
Millions of people in the late '90s couldn’t resist this mall-indie Jackson 5 update, then pretended like they were too cool for it. You know you love it.

Eddie Murphy - “Party All the Time” (1985)
“OK, put your phones on, man” and groove to the late-nite basic-cable synth sound of Rick and Eddie. It’ll be running through your head the rest of the day.

Oasis - “Whatever” (1997)
I will never be able to either justify or deny my affection for Oasis. This 1997 single is one of their flimsiest confections of faux-Beatles grandiosity and empty rhyming-dictionary lyrics, so naturally it’s one of my favorites.

Justin Bieber - “Baby” (2010)
As annoying and undeniable as Hanson. Don’t fight it. Don’t fight it.

Len - “Steal My Sunshine” (1999)
When did everything that seemed stupid and shitty during the '90s suddenly become a carefree avatar of simpler times? This song makes me feel like I just spilled Mountain Dew on somebody’s thrift-store couch during a particularly intense level of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Herman’s Hermits - “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am” (1964)
The song Patrick Swayze used to torture Whoopi Goldberg into helping him in Ghost. If Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg hate something, it can’t be all bad. Sometimes I like to kick this song up to peak twee by playing it on my ukulele (I’m not kidding).

Skid Row - “I Remember You” (1989)
Is anything worse than power ballads? Not just in music, but in life? This one “wins” with an earwormy chorus, over-the-top cheesy lyrics, wailing guitar garbage, and Sebastian Bach’s unholy screech on the later choruses. It’s The Song That Should Not Be, and yet it is! It is!

Chumbawamba - “Tubthumping” (1997)
Chumbawamba were a great anarchist dance-punk band before they signed to a major label and had a global hit with - I don’t care what anybody says - a great anarchist dance-punk song. Come at me, bro.

If you survived that, your prize is the opportunity to inflict your own sorry-not-sorry favorites on the rest of us in the forum. Otherwise, see you next week for some actual good music again.

Songs to meet your preferred level of suckitude are available in our weekend playlist archive:

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satadru
13 days ago
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That's not the Oasis that's on my own I'm embarrassed I love these songs playlist, but I certainly respect the sentiment.

I'm reminded of an interview of Ewan McGregor that came out some time after Trainspotting made it big, where he admitted that Oasis was one of his favorite bands, when it was quite fashionable in my circles to have, shall we say, higher aspirations to quality.

I saw the Trainspotting sequel a couple of nights ago, which is a wonderful meditation on looking back, treading the same road as Linklater's Before films and Boyhood, and there's a beautiful scene with slowed down to poignant speed dance track during a visit to a meadow, echoing a scene in the first movie. Memorial or Nostalgia, the dialogue asks. Then this beautiful comment is made: You're a tourist in your own youth.

This playlist is that.
New York, NY
steingart
13 days ago
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come at me bro. I was too busy brooding to OK Computer to let myself like Len or Chumbawamba. But upon the listen I remember every time I groaned in bar when these songs came on, and the memories are pretty good.
Princeton, NJ
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Ansel Adams and the Golden Ratio

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Ansel Adams is one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century, and photographer Elliot McGucken may have discovered a reason why. While viewing some of Adams’ public domain work, McGucken realized the presence of the golden ratio in the compositions. Read more.

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steingart
13 days ago
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bit of a stretch
Princeton, NJ
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Fudgie The Whale Feels No Existential Dread Upon Turning 40

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Fudgie the Whale was sitting over a plate of croque monsieur when I entered Buvette on Grove Street, a dish that is not only a personal favorite, but a necessary one that helps him maintain his now-famous physique. He looks distant, a little haggard, and in the moment I watch him from the door, he favors his Negroni and staring out the window over the dish that is going cold in front of him. [ more › ]
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satadru
22 days ago
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New York, NY
steingart
24 days ago
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Princeton, NJ
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